By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com
Private Equity Analyst, New York, NY
Strategy/Planning Assistant Analyst , Chicago, IL
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Real Estate Research Intern, Los Angeles, CA
Senior Research Associate, Boston, MA
An effective job search includes many facets and different steps. Most people know to submit their resume to job ads and some even make sure the resume is accompanied by a cover letter. Unfortunately, that is where the process stops for most job seekers. Few go the extra mile and use a powerful follow up letter to further market their career experience. Because it is a step rarely taken by job seekers, it makes those who do send a follow up letter stand out all the more. A great follow up letter can be the deciding factor in winning the interview or the job!
A follow up letter is generally sent one or two times in the job search. First, a follow up letter can be sent within a period of time after the resume and cover letter have been remitted to the employer. In this case, the follow up letter works to achieve branding or name recognition for you in the mind of the employer. The more contact you establish with the employer, the more likely you are to receive attention. Getting attention in this overheated, crowded job market is vital!
For this use of the follow up letter, don’t simply restate or rephrase what you said in your cover letter. Make sure to reiterate your interest but be more proactive. Provide an extra tidbit of information you did not mention in your first cover letter. Maybe draw a quote from a recent news article that relates in some way to the company in order to show you are paying attention to its needs. You could also reference the latest press release from the company website. Anything to show you are not just another job seeker making the rounds of resume distribution. Show you know something about the company and are interested in its success!
You can also take a more proactive approach to contact plans in the follow up letter. If you closed your cover letter with something along the lines of “I would like the opportunity to meet with you. Please feel free to call me”, you are taking a passive, reactive stance to communication. Take the opportunity within the follow up letter to be more proactive and state you will be contacting them again on a certain date. Be careful to follow through with that statement, though! Don’t say you are going to call or email and then not do it; it will reflect badly on your candidacy.
A second use of a follow up letter comes after the interview and can really make a huge impact on the likelihood of being called for a second interview or even being offered the job. In the follow up to the interview letter, don’t just thank the interviewer for his/her time and information. Bring up something specific that was discussed about the company or position and offer constructive comments. For example, if the hiring manager noted they were experiencing difficulties in the department with turnover, comment upon some possible solutions or approaches to resolving that problem. Demonstrate to the hiring manager you were paying attention, have given the problem some thought, and have some fresh ideas to bring to the table. Remember, employers are looking for problem solvers!
Whether you are sending a follow up letter to your resume submission or a follow up letter to an interview, you need to bring new material into the document. You are already going a step further than most other job seekers so really make it count. Customize the follow up letter with fresh information about your qualifications or something about the company. Discuss a topic covered in the interview that relates to the company and not just to you. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. The extra effort will pay off!
About the Author:
Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!